The Pequot War and the Founding of Fairfield, 1637-1639

Fairfield Museum and History Center
Fairfield, CT

The Pequot War and the Founding of Fairfield, 1637-1639 significantly enhanced and furthered the understanding of Connecticut history through an examination of the seminal event that led to the creation of the Town of Fairfield. The story of the Pequot War—the first “total war” on American soil—dominated southwestern Connecticut’s early culture and continues to resonate into the twenty-first century. As the Fairfield Museum and History Center’s (FMHC) capstone exhibition during its year commemorating the 375th anniversary of the founding of the town, the show was successful in teaching the history of the Pequot War, dispelling myths surrounding Connecticut’s Native American tribes and the town’s origin, and engaging a significant new audience.

The Pequot War was a dynamic short-term exhibition, created to educate on the war, its culmination in Fairfield, and its aftermath. Through objects, imagery and a purpose-built model, the show examined a major event that profoundly shaped Fairfield’s 17th-century history. It presented Fairfield’s dominant foundational story, one that defined the community’s early culture and continues to resonate well into the 21st century. The exhibition explored the origins of the town’s founding through a gripping tale of conflict and resolution.

Through humanities-rich research and programming, The Pequot War made Fairfield’s 17th-century past relevant to 21st-century audiences. Visitor surveys collected during the exhibition confirmed that the museum accomplished its three major goals for the show: to increase visitor awareness about the Pequot War and its role in the founding of Fairfield; to expand educational and public programming in schools and for adults; to broaden and strengthen relationships between FMHC and other humanities institutions. We reached our audience through a comprehensive marketing campaign of e-blasts and press releases, invitations to events and programming in conjunction with the exhibition, and outreach to educators.

FMHC believes that history is a powerful platform for examining and understanding the civic values and responsibilities of our democratic society. As a public forum for the process of shared discovery, the museum celebrates and cultivates the elements that create and bind our community: complex stories from multiple points of view that explore the diverse legacies of our region.